"Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Worst single terror attacks in history
by Norm Dixon
August 6 and August 9 2009 mark the 64th anniversaries of the US atomic-bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Hiroshima, an estimated 80,000 people were killed in a split second. Some 13 square kilometres of the city were obliterated. By December, at least another 70,000 people had died from radiation and injuries.
Three days after Hiroshima's destruction, the US dropped an A-bomb on Nagasaki, resulting in the deaths of at least 70,000 people before the year was out.
Since 1945, tens of thousands more residents of the two cities have continued to suffer and die from radiation-induced cancers, birth defects and still births.
A tiny group of US rulers met secretly in Washington and callously ordered this indiscriminate annihilation of civilian populations. They gave no explicit warnings. They rejected all alternatives, preferring to inflict the most extreme human carnage possible. They ordered and had carried out the two worst single terror acts in human history.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries are inevitably marked by countless mass media commentaries and US politicians' speeches that repeat the 63-year-old mantra that there was no other choice but to use A-bombs in order to avoid a bitter, prolonged invasion of Japan.
On July 21, 2005, the British New Scientist magazine undermined this chorus when it reported that two historians had uncovered further evidence revealing that “the US decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ... was meant to kick-start the Cold War [against the Soviet Union, Washington's war-time ally] rather than end the Second World War”. Peter Kuznick, director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at the American University in Washington, stated that US President Harry Truman's decision to blast the cities “was not just a war crime, it was a crime against humanity”.
With Mark Selden, a historian from Cornell University in New York, Kuznick studied the diplomatic archives of the US, Japan and the USSR. They found that three days before Hiroshima, Truman agreed at a meeting that Japan was “looking for peace”. His senior generals and political advisers told him there was no need to use the A-bomb. But the bombs were dropped anyway. “Impressing Russia was more important than ending the war”, Selden told the New Scientist.
While the capitalist media immediately dubbed the historians' “theory” “controversial”, it accords with the testimony of many central US political and military players at the time, including General Dwight Eisenhower, who stated bluntly in a 1963 Newsweek interview that “the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing”.
Truman's chief of staff, Admiral William Leahy, stated in his memoirs that “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.”
At the time though, Washington cold-bloodedly decided to obliterate the lives of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to show off the terrible power of its new super weapon and underline the US rulers' ruthless preparedness to use it.
These terrible acts were intended to warn the leaders of the Soviet Union that their cities would suffer the same fate if the USSR attempted to stand in the way of Washington's plans to create an “American Century” of US global domination. Nuclear scientist Leo Szilard recounted to his biographers how Truman's secretary of state, James Byrnes, told him before the Hiroshima attack that “Russia might be more manageable if impressed by American military might and that a demonstration of the bomb may impress Russia”.
Drunk from the success of its nuclear bloodletting in Japan, Washington planned and threatened the use of nuclear weapons on at least 20 occasions in the 1950s and 1960s, only being restrained when the USSR developed enough nuclear-armed rockets to usher in the era of “mutually assured destruction”, and the US rulers' fear that their use again of nuclear weapons would led to a massive anti-US political revolt by ordinary people around the world.
Washington's policy of nuclear terror remains intact. The US refuses to rule out the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict. Its latest Nuclear Posture Review envisages the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear “rogue states” and it is developing a new generation of ‘battlefield” nuclear weapons.
Fear of the political backlash that would be caused in the US and around the globe by the use of nuclear weapons remains the main restraint upon the atomaniacs in Washington. On this 64rd anniversary year of history's worst acts of terror, the most effective thing that peace-loving people around the world can do to keep that fear alive in the minds of the US rulers is to recommit ourselves to defeating Washington's current “local” wars of terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Also see: THE FORGOTTEN HOLOCAUST REMEMBERED
"The lies of Hiroshima live on, props in the war crimes of the 20th century; The 1945 attack was murder on an epic scale. In its victims' names, we must not allow a nuclear repeat in the Middle East
by John Pilger
.... In the immediate aftermath of the bomb, the allied occupation authorities banned all mention of radiation poisoning and insisted that people had been killed or injured only by the bomb's blast. It was the first big lie. "No radioactivity in Hiroshima ruin" said the front page of the New York Times, a classic of disinformation and journalistic abdication, which the Australian reporter Wilfred Burchett put right with his scoop of the century. "I write this as a warning to the world," reported Burchett in the Daily Express, having reached Hiroshima after a perilous journey, the first correspondent to dare. He described hospital wards filled with people with no visible injuries but who were dying from what he called "an atomic plague". For telling this truth, his press accreditation was withdrawn, he was pilloried and smeared - and vindicated.
The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a criminal act on an epic scale. It was premeditated mass murder that unleashed a weapon of intrinsic criminality. For this reason its apologists have sought refuge in the mythology of the ultimate "good war", whose "ethical bath", as Richard Drayton called it, has allowed the west not only to expiate its bloody imperial past but to promote 60 years of rapacious war, always beneath the shadow of The Bomb.
The most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and save lives. "Even without the atomic bombing attacks," concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, "air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that ... Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated."
"Hiroshima Didn't Have to Happen
"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom." - Thomas Paine, "Common Sense," 1776
Fifty-six years ago this month, we became the first and only nation to use nuclear weapons in warfare. The world was told that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified in order to bring a swift end to the war without a costly and bloody invasion of Japan's home islands. This, to put it charitably, was a lie. No less an authority than General Dwight Eisenhower has stated unequivocally: "It wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."
Yet millions of Americans still believe what they were told in August of 1945, well before the experience of being regularly deceived by our government became commonplace. As we saw with the controversies surrounding the 50th anniversary exhibition at the Smithsonian, many are outraged by anyone who agrees with Eisenhower's views. But Eisenhower was hardly alone at the time.
President Truman's top military advisors were virtually unanimous in their belief that the atomic bombs were not needed to end the war without an invasion: Generals MacArthur, Clarke, Bonesteel and Marshall of the Army; Admirals Leahy, Nimitz, Halsey, Wagner and Radford of the Navy; and Generals Arnold, Eaker, LeMay, Spaatz and Chennault of the Air Force. (Comments from each of these men can be found at www.doug-long.com, in an extended discussion of Gar Alperovitz' book The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, the most extensive examination of the new evidence in this case.)
The military leaders knew, as most civilians and soldiers did not, that Japan's military situation was completely hopeless. We controlled both her seas and her skies with impunity. The war would be over long before an invasion could be mounted. Eisenhower also knew what some of his fellow generals did not: that for over a year we had been intercepting Japanese diplomatic cables seeking surrender. Dozens of such messages have now been declassified. This cable traffic became more frequent and more desperate in the final weeks of the war. By then it was clear that the Japanese Emperor and even elements of her military were committed to surrender. And there is now no doubt that President Truman knew this when he made the decision to use nuclear weapons. We have a diary entry in his own handwriting concerning the "cable from Jap Emperor asking for peace."
There was only one condition. Japan was asking for the same terms on which the war was later settled: that she be allowed to retain her Emperor. Truman's political advisors told him that even a hint that we would agree to this, even a private assurance, would be likely to bring the war to an end. But Truman not only refused to offer such assurances, he explicitly removed them from the statement issued at the Potsdam summit in July, knowing full well that this would prolong the war. He waited long months until the atomic bomb was available, without pursuing other avenues to peace. Far from saving lives, the nuclear option caused more soldiers to die in a war that was essentially over.
Why did Harry Truman do this? The available evidence in the historical record indicates that Truman and his closest advisor, Secretary of State James Byrnes, felt that nuclear weapons would give America unchallenged military power. They were looking ahead to the Cold War; they believed that demonstrating our willingness to use such weapons would make the Russians "more manageable" in the postwar period. Other advisors warned that this would lead to a costly nuclear arms race. But Truman and Byrnes chose to believe General Groves, leader of the Manhattan Project, who predicted that it would be twenty years before another nation could develop nuclear arms.
This, of course, was one of history's greatest miscalculations. They could not definitively foresee what we know now: that their decision is still killing the children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in their fifties and sixties; that we would spend trillions of dollars in a needless arms race; that thousands of patriotic soldiers and atomic workers would be sickened and killed by the careless use of nuclear power; that island nations of the South Pacific would be destroyed in our quest for nuclear supremacy; or that we would lose a good measure of our democracy in assuming a permanent war footing and adopting extraconstitutional measures in the name of national security.
It is their responsibility nonetheless, and it is our legacy. Because of geostrategic political calculations, our government chose to use nuclear weapons without warning, against a civilian target, and without first pursuing any other method of achieving Japan's surrender. Rather than justifying it by invoking revenge for Pearl Harbor or other Japanese atrocities; rather than expressing a triumphalist joy for the lives saved in an invasion that never would have occurred; we should unflinchingly recall this anniversary with humility and sorrow.
From the August 18, 2001 issue of the Arizona Daily Star
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